College Connect: Grads Face Rough Job Market

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Here’s some distressing news for soon-to-be grads, since I’m sure that’s what you were hoping for. A report out this week from the Economic Policy Institute said there is little hope for young graduates. The depressing message: if you get a job, it’s going to be a low-paying entry-level position.

The report admits it can’t tell the future and the job market is slightly on the upward track but the recent alumni to high schools and universities have a concerning tale to tell.

The March unemployment rate for young workers (under 25) was 16.2 percent, that’s more than twice the national average. The improvement in that number is excruciatingly slow and youth unemployment rates are still substantially higher than before the “Great Recession” hit in late 2007.

So you think going to college will help your shot? Sure, it will —a little.

Data from the labor department says the unemployment rate for recent grads, that’s workers between 21 and 24 years old, was 8.8% in the last year. That doesn’t include those who’ve given up hope and recently stopped looking for a job or have settled for a part-time job. Include them, and the rate of those without a substantial regular income rises to a distressing 18.3%.

Even those getting a regular paycheck are making less than their previous-generation counterpart. College grads working a full-time gig now are making $3,200 less a year than in young grads were back in 2000.  (Consider that alongside this stat from the Project for Student Debt: the average college student racks up $26,000 in debt by the time they switch their tassel.)

How will you avoid falling victim to those statistics?

Your best bet is to work for free. Summer breaks, free time during the regular semester, winter breaks… fill each with a new internship.  The report says the lousy labor market is caused by weak demand for goods and services, rather than lack of the right education and skills in the workforce. So continue to build skills and experience in your hopeful future industry, and hope for this recovery to seep into the labor market sooner rather than later.

Here’s the report with more: THE CLASS OF 2013: Young graduates still face dim job prospects

Katie Brennan is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism. She’s originally from Los Angeles and will intern in New York this summer

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